Week 17 may have contained several critical games, but the Chiefs and 49ers had a tough time squeaking out wins over what should have been lesser opponents. And the Vikings and Eagles did not look like one of the top teams in the NFC when both lost. The games seemed to either be ridiculously close, or blowouts with eight games that were determined by two touchdowns or more.
The biggest week on the fantasy schedule and there were a few monster performances, but a lot of painful no-shows when you needed them the most.
Arizona 19, Atlanta 20
This close game never saw either team lead by more than four points and the Falcons took the win with a 21-yard field goal as time expired. David Blough was the starting quarterback for the Cardinals and managed to throw for 222 yards and one score to Trey McBride (7-78, TD). DeAndre Hopkins was inactive and Marquise Brown (6-61) stepped up. James Conner ran for 79 yards on 16 rushes and caught three passes for 31 yards. The Cardinals almost pulled off a upset but fell short. They bring their 4-12 record to San Francisco for the season finale.
Desmond Ridder passed for 169 yards and no scores with MyCole Pruitt (4-49) and Drake London (5-47) as the top receivers. Tyler Allgeier ran for 83 yards and a score on 20 rushes while Cordarrelle Patterson gained 42 yards and a touchdown on his nine runs, and added six receptions for 42 yards. There were no standout performances other than Allgeier and the passing game still struggles to produce even average stats. The Falcons are 6-10 and host the Buccaneers on Sunday.
Chicago 10, Detroit 41
The Bears can take pride in using the best rushing quarterback in the league. Justin Fields ran for 132 yards on ten rushes. Problem is that the Bears lost by 31 points and he could only pass for 75 yards and one score while completing only 7-of-21 passes against the worst secondary in the NFL. Cole Kmet (2-27, TD) and Equanimeous St. Brown (2-20) dominated the other receivers (there were only two) and Fields has the rarity of completing passes to four receivers, while failing to complete to five receivers. David Montgomery ran for 24 yards on six carries while Khalil Herbert gained 31 yards on his five runs. The loss drops the Bears to 3-13 and they host the Vikings to end their season.
The Lions actually trailed 10-7 in the first quarter before they remembered that they didn’t need to defend the pass and they tore off 34 straight points to end the game. Jared Goff threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns with two ending up with Brock Wright (3-13, 2 TD). Amon-Ra St. Brown (4-62) and DJ Chark (2-56) were the primary receivers. The backfield took care of business with Jamaal Williams (22-144, TD) and D’Andre Swift (11-78, TD) doing the damage as runners, though Swift added four catches for 39 yards and a second touchdown. The win illustrated how much better the 8-8 Lions have become this season and they wind up playing in Green Bay.
Denver 24, Kansas City 27
The Chiefs just won their 15th straight game against the Broncos and most of the recent matchups were this close. Denver led 17-13 in the third quarter but could only muster a single touchdown in the fourth quarter. Russell Wilson passed for 222 yards and one score while rushing for 27 yards and two more touchdowns on his four runs. Albert Okwuegbunam (3-45, TD) and Courtland Sutton (4-44) were the top receivers while Jerry Jeudy was held to 38 yards on his seven receptions. Latavius Murray ran for 56 yards on 12 carries and Chase Edmonds used his seven runs to gain 34 yards. The loss drops the Broncos to only 4-12 on the year and they finish with hosting the Chargers.
The Chiefs took the win thanks to Patrick Mahomes passing for 328 yards and three touchdowns and he again relied heavily on Jerick McKinnon (5-52, 2 TD) while Kadarius Toney (4-71) and Travis Kelce (7-43) were the other top receivers. Mahomes not only completed passes to 11 receivers, that included himself when a pass was batted back and he caught it and ran for six yards. Isiah Pacheco (9-31, TD) handled the meager carries for the backfield. The 13-3 Chiefs wrap up the season at the Raiders.
Miami 21, New England 23
The Dolphins led 14-7 in the third quarter but the Patriots scored, returned an interception for a touchdown, and kicked a field goal to push the game out of reach of the Fins. Teddy Bridgewater left near the end of the third quarter with a finger injury and Skylar Thompson finished the game. They combined for 265 yards and Thompson threw a score to Mike Gesicki (2-18, TD) with just a minute left. Tyreek Hill (4-55) and Jaylen Waddle (3-52) didn’t fare well without Tue Tagovailoa. Jeff Wilson (15-45) and Raheem Mostert (9-29) weren’t effective rushing though Mostert led the team with eight catches for 62 yards and a touchdown as a receiver. The Fins drop to 8-8 and finish by hosting the Jets.
The Patriots reverted to their split backfield with Damien Harris back. He ran for 32 yards on nine carries while Rhamondre Stevenson only carried eight times for 42 yards. Harris also caught three passes for 18 yards while Stevenson settled for two receptions for nine yards. It was a tough pill to swallow for the Stevenson owners who had been used to the workhorse not sharing at all while Harris was on injured reserve. Mac Jones threw for 203 yards and two scores between Tyquan Thornton (3-60, TD) and Jakobi Meyers (6-48, TD), and Hunter Henry (5-52) was the only other receiver with more than 18 yards. The Patriots rise to 8-8 and finish in Buffalo.
Indianapolis 10, NY Giants 38
The Colts drop another bad loss with Nick Foles (ribs) and Sam Ehlinger combining for only 141 yards and one score and one interception. Parris Campbell (3-52) and Michael Pittman (6-41, TD) were the only receivers with more than 19 yards. Zack Moss (15-74) had a better game as a rusher than usual, but then again they lost by 28 points , so why run the ball at all? The Colts lost their fifth straight and eight of the last nine games. On the plus, Jeff Saturday’s team set no all-time worst records. They drag their 4-11-1 record back home to face the Texans.
The Giants used the soft spot in the schedule to secure a spot in the playoffs. Daniel Jones threw for 177 yards and two scores between Richie James (7-76, TD) and Isaiah Hodgins (4-42, TD). Jones also ran for a team-high 91 yards and two more touchdowns on 11 rushes. Saquon Barkley was only given 12 rushes for 58 yards and threw two passes for a net five-yard loss in a very disappointing performance during fantasy championship week.
New Orleans 20, Philadelphia 10
The surprising Saints opted for a tandem quarterback with Andy Dalton throwing for 204 yards and Taysom Hill passing for 24 yards while running 14 times for 46 yards and a touchdown. And it worked. Rashid Shaheen (6-79) and Juwan Johnson (5-62) were the top receivers. Alvin Kamara ran for 74 yards on 16 carries but only caught a seven-yard pass. This was a defensive game (or, conversely, just not good offense), and the Saints salted the game away with a pick-six by Marshon Lattimore in the fourth quarter. The 7-9 Saints wrap up with a meaningless home game against the Panthers.
The Eagles want the No. 1 seed, they really do. It’s just hard to tell right now. Gardner Minshew passed for 274 yards and one score with one interception (returned by the defense for a score). DeVonta Smith (9-115) and A.J. Brown (4-97, TD) turned in nice fantasy points and Dallas Goedert settled for three catches for 45 yards. Miles Sanders ran for 61 yards on 12 carries while the offense just couldn’t sustain drivers and their only score came on a third-quarter bomb that Brown turned into a 78-yard score. The loss drops the Eagles to 13-3 and they still haven’t clinched the NFC East, let alone the No. 1 seed. They finish up by hosting the Giants.
Carolina 24, Tampa Bay 30
The Battle of the AFC South goes to the Buccaneers. The Panthers made it a game though and led 14-0 in the second quarter before it got away from them. Sam Darnold threw for 341 yards and three scores, but he threw an interception and lost two fumbles. D.J. Moore (6-117, TD) and Shi Smith (4-70, TD) were the top receivers and even Tommy Tremble (3-33, TD) scored. But D’Onta Foreman (13-35) and Chuba Hubbard (3-12) couldn’t get much done as a visitor against an aggressive run defense. The Panthers drop to 6-10 and finish up in New Orleans.
Tom Brady passed for 432 yards and three scores for a great ending for the fantasy season. The surprise of the week – for the entire NFL – was Mike Evans plodding through the season with far fewer scores and yet when you need him most, he posts ten catches for 207 yards and three touchdown to lead all fantasy scorers. Even Chris Godwin gained 120 yards on nine catches, while no other receivers topped 33 yards. Leonard Fournette (10-28) and Rashaad White (11-22) split the carries to little effect but Fournette caught four passes for 19 yards while White reeled in five passes for 26 yards. The game was all pitch-and-catch with Evans and Godwin. The 8-8 Buccaneers finish the season in Atlanta.
Cleveland 24, Washington 10
The Browns enjoyed a solid win and Deshaun Watson finally looked more like the player they hoped when they coughed up a mountain of cash for him. He passed for 169 yards and three touchdowns, plus ran for 31 yards on eight rushes. Amari Cooper (3-105, 2 TD) and Donovan Peoples-Jones (1-13, TD) handled the scoring and no other receivers gained more than 21 yards. Nick Chubb ran for 104 yards on 14 carries and caught a 12-yard pass. It was a solid win over a Commanders’ team that struggled to pass. The 7-9 Browns play in Pittsburgh to finish the season.
The Commanders swapped out Taylor Heinicke for Carson Wentz looking for a spark and really just got burned. He only passed for 143 yards and three interceptions. Logan Thomas (6-56) and Jahan Dotson (3-37) were the top receivers and Terry McLaurin settled for just two catches for 25 yards. Brian Robinson ran for 87 yards on 24 carries but Wentz stole the rushing score so that there were no decent fantasy plays from Washington for the week. While HC Ron Rivera figures out his next move at quarterback, the 7-8-1 Commanders host the Cowboys while hoping that they’ll just rest all of their starters in that meaningless game.
Pittsburgh16, Baltimore 13
This game was never going to feed any fantasy championship with many points. Kenny Pickett only passed for 168 yards and one score with 56 seconds left to Najee Harris (2-12, TD) to win the game. Pat Freiermuth (3-36) and Diontae Johnson (2-35) were as good as it got with receivers. Harris ran for 111 yards on 22 carries as the only Steeler with a notable fantasy game. Jaylen Warren added 12 runs for 76 yards and caught three passes for 22 yards). The win sends the 8-8 Steelers back home to host the Browns and are still in contention for a wild card.
The Ravens under Tyler Huntley couldn’t get the pass going with only 130 yards and one score with one interception. And Mark Andrews caught nine passes for 100 yards as the only Raven receiver with more than 12 yards. Fellow tight end Isaiah Likely scored on the seven-yard pass but Andrews already accounted for 77% of all receiving yardage for Baltimore. J.K. Dobbins (17-93) was very effective when he ran but dud not score or have any targets. The difference remains apparent – the Ravens offense is designed around Lamar Jackson and while Huntley fills in with much the same skillset as a runner and passer, he’s a step down in both categories. And that’s a step the Ravens cannot afford. They fall to 10-6 and finish at the Bengals.
Jacksonville 31, Houston 3
This AFC South matchup wasn’t as close as the score suggests. The Jags went into halftime already ahead 21-0 thanks to two rushing score and a fumble return for a score. Trevor Lawrence only passed for 152 yards because the Jaguars didn’t need him to throw. Marvin Jones (6-61) and Zay Jones (3-24) were the top receivers. Travis Etienne (9-108, TD) scored on a 62-yard run and he added 32 yards on three receptions. JaMycal Hasty ran in a score as well and even the rookie Snoop Conner punched in a touchdown in this romp. Sadly, only Etienne offered much fantasy value. The 8-8 Jaguars need to beat the visiting Titans this week to ensure they take the division.
The Texans couldn’t get anything going and yet only turned the ball over once. Davis Mills threw for 202 yards and no scores. Brandin Cooks (4-39) was the top receiver though he had just one catch until the fourth quarter. Royce Freeman (7-19) and Dare Ogunbowale (7-21) couldn’t generate any offense. It was what happens when their opponent takes them seriously and needed to win the game. The Texans had appeared better than they are since most teams just try to mail in their performance. The 2-13-1 Texans head to Indianapolis still needing one more loss to lock the first overall draft pick.
NY Jets 6, Seattle 23
The Jets lose their fifth-straight game and with that, a chance at the postseason after a very encouraging start. Turning back to Mike White didn’t do the trick when he was held to only 23-of-46 passing for 240 yards and two interceptions. Tyler Conklin (6-80) was the only receiver with more than 45 yards though White connected with nine different receivers. Zonovan Knight (8-27) share the backfield with Ty Johnson (8-46) while Michael Carter only had one run for two yards. The Jets’ defense played great against the pass but their offense kept putting the defense in bad situations. The 7-9 Jets end up with a losing record and finish with a trip to Miami.
The Seahawks had no turnovers and had success rushing Kenneth Walker (23-133) who broke off a 60-yard run to pad his stats. Geno Smith passed for 183 yards and two scores but the Jets took care of Tyler Lockett (2-15) and DK Metcalf (1-3). DeeJay Dallas (3-55) and Colby Parkinson (5-36, TD) were the best receivers. The Seahawks ran better than expected, but the Jets made it easier on them by not scoring touchdowns. The 8-8 Seahawks host the Rams and need to win with help to grab the final NFC wild card.
Minnesota 17, Green Bay 41
Maybe the “King of the North” tee shirts were premature. The Vikings have already clinched the division, but the difference between them and the Packers looked tremendous on Sunday. Kirk Cousins threw for 205 yards and one late, meaningless fourth-quarter touchdown against three interceptions and a lost fumble. The best receiver was Jalen Nailor (3-89, TD) while T.J. Hockenson (7-59) and K.J. Osborn (7-59, TD) used trash time late in the game to pad their stats. The Vikings trailed 41-3 before the Packers finally lost interest. Justin Jefferson had one catch for 15 yards in the most important week of the fantasy year. The 12-4 Vikings finish in Chicago and hope it doesn’t all work out so that they have to face the Packers in January,
Aaron Rodgers didn’t have to do much. He passed for 159 yards and one touchdown to Robert Tonyan (3-52, TD). Allen Lazard (5-59) was the only other receiver with more than 20 yards in the game. The Vikings brought one of the worst passing defenses but the Packers opted to just attack their terrible run defense. Aaron Jones (14-111) and AJ Dillon (12-41, TD) shared the workload. The win keeps the 8-8 Packers in the playoff race and they host the Lions in Week 18.
LA Rams 10, LA Chargers 31
This is how we envision all the Rams’ games going, though they have surprised. Cam Akers continues to come to life and he ran for 123 yards on 19 carries and caught a ten-yard pass. Malcolm Brown only had one run but it was a 23-yard touchdown. But Baker Mayfield was held to just 132 yards with Van Jefferson (3-77) as the only receiver with more than 21 yards. Aside from Akers rushing, the Rams’ offense looked just as stale and outmanned as in any game this year. The 5-11 Rams finish up in Seattle this week and then they can stop answering people, “yes, we are the reigning NFL champions. Yes, really.”
The Chargers’ rushing game came to life against the Rams. Austin Ekeler strengthened his hold atop all fantasy running backs when he ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns on just ten carries, and added four catches for 39 more yards. Josh Kelley also added 45 yards on nine rushes while Larry Rountree mopped up with ten rushes for 15 yards. Justin Herbert passed for 212 yards and two scores, while Mike Williams (7-94) and Keenan Allen (5-60) were the best receivers. The Chargers held a 17-10 lead at halftime and the Rams never scored again. The 10-6 Chargers finish the season in Denver.
GAME-O-THE-WEEK: San Francisco 37, Las Vegas 34
What a great game where there shouldn’t have been any. But the Raiders spent most of 2022 perfecting how to stay in games regardless of the odds and yet lose it by the smallest of margins. Derek Carr was benched and is likely to have played in his final silver and black game. Jarrett Stidham got the start on the strength of being a tag-along with HC Josh McDaniels when he came from the Patriots. He threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns on a Top-5 defense though he tossed two interceptions, the second of which led to the overtime loss. Davante Adams (7-153, 2 TD) and Darren Waller (3-72, TD) lost nothing in the transition and even Josh Jacobs ran for 69 yards and a score on 17 carries versus the No. 1 run defense. The 6-10 Raiders host the Chiefs for Week 18.
The Brock Purdy Experience continues with yet another win. He threw for 284 yards and two scores with one interception. Brandon Aiyuk (9-101, TD) and Christian McCaffrey (6-72) were the leading receivers but George Kittle (4-23, TD) continued to catch his obligatory touchdown when Purdy plays. McCaffrey ran for 121 yards and a score on 19 carries while Jordan Mason also scored when he relieved McCaffrey for a play and was 14 yards from the end zone. The 49ers’ defense (or lack of) was the big surprise in this matchup and they appeared ready to mail in the performance. They were very nearly caught in a trap game. The 12-4 49ers finish the regular season by hosting the Cardinals.